MASTICATING

 cookie break

cookie break

A rare appearance of sugar. 

 spring rose

spring rose

A Monday evening indulgence of a spring season rose. 

 hangover cure.

hangover cure.

After an evening of rose, the best solution is an spinach omlette sandwich. 

 Lunch

Lunch

Happy lunchbox of cashews, snap peas, eggs and rotini. 

 Meatlump begginings. 

Meatlump begginings. 

Whenever I think meatballs, it always turns into meatlump, aka meatloaf. 

 Pasta simple

Pasta simple

my carbohydrate and vegetable component. 

 Veggie! 

Veggie! 

Tri colored awesome

 meatlump. 

meatlump. 

MEATLUMP. 

upload.jpeg

tummy happy. 

 steel! 

steel! 

Oh and a bit of celebration here, I got my knife sharpened finally by samurai sharpening lady at chelsea market AND treated myself to an 11 inch frypan because the only frypan in the apartment will be moving out with my roomie. I'm thinking of naming it Mr. 11 inch. Hopefully he will get along with Ms. Noble Brown down in the pantry. 

MARCH IN PROGRESS

I was looking back at the photographs for this month and realize even though time flew by, I still managed to squeeze in some mini adventures around town. 

 Dancing Duo.

Dancing Duo.

These two silhouettes are of the fabulous pair of Keith and Sarah who dragged me out dancing one night. Maybe because it was a Monday night, there were dancers out on the floor, but I betcha I out danced them all!

 Free floor tiles

Free floor tiles

I hit the jackpot when I stumbled across these outdoor floor tiles. At work we were just desperately shopping for some outdoor style floor tiles for a Tradeshow display, and then boom! they appear in my life. 

 Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Bowl

Still not quite outdoor weather yet, so when invited to a music concert at the Brooklyn Bowl, I went out and ended up still being one of the few by the front of the stage actually dancing to the awesome music. Some people aren't living enough I thought to myself. 

 Sunset in Greenpoint

Sunset in Greenpoint

Sunset just looks pretty amongst the warehouse yard at work. 

 waiting to see the eye doctor.

waiting to see the eye doctor.

Yes! in the eyeglass shop in process to get contact lenses!! scary, but determined. 

 dentist

dentist

And if going to the dentist wasn't enough, then taking care of my teeth too!

 Downtown Manhattan

Downtown Manhattan

As the days get longer, I get to see the beauty that Downtown Manhattan can present to me. 

 workout workout!

workout workout!

My fitness tools that I use frequently. A 16 lbs workout ball and a dumbbell weight. They do help me stay sane in this interminable winter. 

 Oreo cookie break

Oreo cookie break

Its been weird how I almost never really had a sweet tooth, but lately I am open to having sugar be presented in front of me. 

 chicken drumsticks

chicken drumsticks

I suspect my forays into the kitchen has been diminishing lately, trying to stuff my life full with obligations and to-do's. Cooking adventures have been few and far in between, but I still manage to feed myself. Chicken drumsticks roasted in the oven served with tomatoes and cucumbers. 

 belated chinese new year celebration

belated chinese new year celebration

I got invited out to observe a belated Chinese New Year celebration that included speeches from the Brooklyn Borough President and a fancy dinner, but my buddy and I couldn't tolerate the political niceties so we ran away before it really got started. 

 bright lamppost

bright lamppost

I just realized the sun was at the height of the lamp post. There was a big snowfall recently, and the following morning was bright and sunny, it was probably thanks to the light post to show the sun the way!

 veggie empanada from lulu bean cafe

veggie empanada from lulu bean cafe

I let myself indulge in a "breakfast empanada" from my local coffee shop lulu bean. It was a thin dough enveloping eggs, potatoes and spinach. When they heated it up on the panini press, they made a beautiful X pattern. I think I could eat one of these every day!

I can only hope I will continue to grab life as much as I can as this month flies by!

WHO AM I?

Had a recent discussion (with a aquamarine blue eyeglass-ed boy with a shirt to match and a yellow haired girl) about not taking the opportunities we have to express oneself on the surface. In the contemporary day and age of New York City, where such liberties are possible. We were quietly guffawing at the table of girls next to us all looking identical to each other. The straightened layered hair, preppy wanna be risque sheer blouses and catalog gold chain designer purses with black boots, so generic!

I remember being complemented by Bob on my colorful scarves and the endless arrangement of them, the surprise at discovering it was me under the bear hat. The first time he saw me was wearing bear hat was while I was trying to get myself to talk to a colleague about my thoughts and how I wanted to be able to share my concern and talk through the work problems I had with her, but could not do it on my own... so I brought bear hat to assist! Bob was proud of me taking initiative to address my issues with people directly, even if it meant wearing bear hat for support!

For Bob’s memorial service, I was almost afraid to go. I needed courage to face the farewell… So I turned to my clothes and what I thought would best represent the intent that Bob lived his life with, the extreme and living as much as possible. The process I’m going through is self expression, that he also had a hand in encouraging me to speak about my emotions to someone, even if it wasn’t him… the point being - to get it out, not buried and smoldering on the inside. So how did I distill all this? I dug through my wardrobe and wanted a helping hand with courage, it had to be loud but tasteful, a serious tone but not somber with touches of joy. This is what I ended up with.

  It had to be loud but tasteful, a serious tone but not somber with touches of joy.

It had to be loud but tasteful, a serious tone but not somber with touches of joy.


A person is ever changing and evolving and I’m sure my tastes will too. But for now, this is where I seem to find myself expressed to the fullest when given the opportunity.

GROWNUP NEWBIE

(Firstly I have to admit I didn't make my Wednesday posting deadline this week....) 

This past week I got an opportunity to take the Roosevelt Island Tramway the opposite direction of the morning commute.

roosevelt island tramway

I got to see the view of the 59th street bridge from Queens into Manhattan from the view of the Tramway ride. The congestion of the morning traffic barely inching forward, I sailed high above them at a graceful pace of calmness away from the ground level noise. 

59th street bridge

And why was I taking the Tramway this morning? I was headed to a Bike New York Adult Bicycle Learning Class!

bike nyc class

I'm one of those people with a weird childhood phobia about riding a bicycle, but now in a city where bicycling can save you time and money in addition to a potentially enjoyable way to migrate from point A to B.  My desire to learn how to bicycle finally grew until it was bursting from my brain. I jumped on the opportunity when I found the free Adult learning class. 

Before this class, I have had friends show me their method, and I have been able to get my bum on the bicycle, but with very little confidence. The informative instructors taught us balance on the bicycle frame by removing the foot pedals and showing us how to glide-walk with the seat lowered just enough to allow our feet to touch the ground. The goal was to be able to glide on the bicycle frame without feet touching the ground for 5 seconds or more. The instructors claim that once you can develop balance, this will allow you body to learn how to orient itself on the frame. 

Upon successful exhibition of gliding for 5 seconds or more, they graduate you to the next step by adding the pedals, and raising the seat until you are on your tippy-toes. The challenge is to learn how to kickstart the liftoff momentum until you can establish the balance again, this time by pedaling. Thankfully with the tiny bit of previous experience I was able to get to cycling faster than I thought, and the glide-walk exercise was tremendously helpful. Still not being an expert, I still fell off the cycle once when trying to do laps around the gymnasium with a blue bruise on my left hip to confirm it a day later. Instructors claim the falling off the bike is still and educational experience and part of the learning process. 

I was elated to find myself cycling laps around the gymnasium successfully! I still have much more to learn about the gears, brakes and hand signals, but having this awesome opportunity to experience learning bicycling under structured instruction gave me much more confidence to look forward to more!

BOB

What I learned from Bob – working for him for 4 years.

My Ramblings from different points of view.

 This may not the most flattering, but the most intriguing to me - Staples slogan "Make More Happen" with Bob spending money. When he was the expert at making the world happen without spending anything. A true business man. 

This may not the most flattering, but the most intriguing to me - Staples slogan "Make More Happen" with Bob spending money. When he was the expert at making the world happen without spending anything. A true business man. 

How to ask the hard questions.

The hiring numbers – what is your expected salary?

And to not waste your time we are offering (blank) are you still interested in this position?

Persistence – micro managing, or the scale of the details would seem so small compared to a larger company objective, but the whole point was that he did not stop. He knew when a company gets too large for him, he does best when he is in control of everything. The negotiation master.

To ask, where is the money coming from?

How are we going to make money?

Regarding this negotiation skills, it seems to a weird none of it seems to have truly stuck to me. I am a different person entirely.

Everyday I listened to him, translating his ideals into quantifiable and deadline-able actions. What did I get from it? His need to ask a million questions digging for an answer. Even if it may mean uncomfortable psychological factors. What did I put into it? I listened really hard so that I can translate that into a different English with changes in vocabulary and sentence structure to match communication method of the recipient.

Everyday I read to him. Reading his reports and sharing conversations on his phone conversations that allowed him to get into their daily lives of the Indonesia team and speculate their intent and differences due to culture and language and how to navigate a business with American New York style business sensibilities in Indonesia.  

How did it enable him to continue to work with dignity and respect as I could muster? Did I do the right thing?

I scouted flooring tiles today on Banker Street that magically resolves one of our big budget procurement problems for our Tradeshow booth. It’s so hard not to hoard, and fill a warehouse full with happy findings. What it really is the discovery process – when stumbling upon something that is truly useful, beautiful, or functional. The physical objects are just a reminder of all the adventures and discoveries revealed.

To ask, where is the money coming from?

How are we going to make money?

My take on is that – I am I asking enough questions? Do I have all the details and information to paint the entire story from all sides?

My answer is - to be prepared better? How to plan ahead to be able to make it happen?

He enjoyed investigating intent and their activities.

He enjoyed being the hero problems solver to save the day.

How can I help? What do you need? Who do you need?

Most IMPORTANTLY he taught me to feel. He suggested Therapy to me for I was compounding and internalizing pressures and stress of life. He encouraged the opportunity to get it out of my system and identify and express my concerns and emotions more freely.

The best emotional support he has ever given me and supported me with funding, understanding and time for me to go through this process that has taught me the thaw. He told me it is feels numbingly cold when you are frozen in the winter, but when you thaw into a warm place, the thawing process can hurt, be painful sometimes and that pain is like the processing of therapy, but once you thaw, you are warm again, and therapy offers the opportunity to be warm and open again into a better human being.

He told jokes, He told stories, He knew everyone and became friends with everyone.

Always headfirst, think later. He got momentum started and accomplished so much that way.

I truly want to be able to live with the courage that he has. There are edits and differences I will like to make for myself to match my personality, but this is because I had the opportunity to see to compare and contrast so many aspects of thinking and life. 

But at the same time, I sometimes completely dismissed him like an angsty teenager, I wonder if I mourned and grieved earlier these past few years. I feel as if I grieved a long time before Daily communication ceased from him. It was Daily, it was unrelenting.  It was powerful.

He had his difficult moments for me. There were also enough personalities he did not get along with.

He did do away with manners and cultural sensitivity sometimes to get to his goal, or sometimes he’s so strong he isn't aware that he is being insensitive, that wall is something you build? Or you’re born with it. Fascinatingly I think his car personified his personality. Scratched, dented, yellow duct taped it sent a message to the world that he is still standing after a beating and quite unstoppable. Something about those scratches in the car paint and the disregard for the collection of those occasions onto the body of the car I feel quantify how many risks he was willing to take.

He had his favorite breakfast diner on Manhattan Ave with crispy home fries, runny two eggs and ketchup alongside coffee.

I do feel like I did what I could, and trying hard to live strongly as he would have done.

He enjoyed seeing my colorful scarves, commented on my style of dress seemed always different and a-wonder about it. I think I can definitely wear those colors and continue that to celebrate the life that he lived.

To ask, where is the money coming from?

How are we going to make money?

I’ll miss you Bob. 

lets be friends!

There’s a stereotype that goes around that claim it gets harder to meet people and make friends as you get older. Granted I am not in a position where I am truly isolated,(and people tell me you’re still young, you’ve got no excuses) but I am learning it takes a willingness and some effort with patience to meet new people to make new friends.

 J with the sorbet samples and K and S hanging out tasting the frozen treats. 

J with the sorbet samples and K and S hanging out tasting the frozen treats. 

I finally had an opportunity to meet K and S whom I met last summer at the Beacon Farmer’s Market while being a fabulous Sorbet sales assistant for New Confectioners Vegan Sorbet stand.

 The sorbet sales assistant, totally eating merchandise. 

The sorbet sales assistant, totally eating merchandise. 

Just like how I got to meet J at the New Confectioners stand, K and S were hungry wanderers curious about the gourmet sorbet that J was offering during the hot summer sun.

K and S and I all realized that we were New York residents so we said “lets be friends!” and managed to exchange email addresses. With a rate of an email exchange once a month and not quite having schedules align with the stars, we finally picked a date that we were all available to get together to cook dinner since we were all enthusiastic fans of cooking and eating.

As we were in the emailing phase trying to figure out the menu, got suggested it might be fun to be able to do a southeast asian dish after learning about my Singapore trip. So with that inspiration I dug up a Malaysian/ Singaporean recipe called ‘laksa’ which is a curry noodle dish with either shrimp or fish. I got to flex my brain muscles and translate this noodle dish into a veganized version to accommodate stomach preferences.

(email excerpt)“That sounds fabulous!

I like exploring different kitchens!

This is the approximate shopping list if its for 3 stomachs.

- rice vermicelli noodles - about two packs? for three people? (i'm not familiar with how big the packages are)

- curry paste - could be Thai red curry paste in a jar or tin.

- coconut milk - 1 can

- lemongrass - 2 stalks

- kaffir lime leaf OR glangal- if available  as an aromatic- (kaffir gets used like bay leaf so only 2-3pcs needed)

- tofu - medium to firm - 1package

- baby corn OR bamboo shoot - 1 can, OR fresh carrot / bell pepper could work.

- bean sprout - 1/2lb -1lb - this gets served as part of the vermicelli noodle-ness so a balance of the noodles with the bean sprouts

- cilantro - 1 bunch.”

K and S were fabulous hosts offering to gather the ingredients taking advantage of exotic groceries available in Queens. I showed up on a cold snowy evening and we were able to get to know each other better and party in the kitchen!

Dinner turned into a 3 course meal where S brought in her french onion soup for a starter and decadent chocolate mousse, I couldn’t even tell that I was made from tofu! And then the laksa turned out successful for a first attempt of red curry rice vermicelli noodles with a rainbow of vegetables!

 Vegan variation of laksa with rice vermicelli and thai red curry paste. Including tofu, baby corn, carrot, red pepper and a fried onion cilantro topping. 

Vegan variation of laksa with rice vermicelli and thai red curry paste. Including tofu, baby corn, carrot, red pepper and a fried onion cilantro topping. 

It was a 6 month process from when we all first met, until we got to meet up for dinner, but we didn’t give up on trying to stay in touch and we finally got to hang out and dance around in their living room in between fabulously tasty meal courses. And now I have new friends! yay!


FOCUS SPACE

THE PLACE WHERE YOU GET YOUR SH*T DONE.

If I were to compare and contrast what a focus space means to me is a physically designated location where an individual becomes focused and accomplish intended goals or be effective/productive

Enough of the flowery language. To me this is a space where I consistently practice a habit or behavior so that the physical actions become more automatic functioning in that space, do the same thing every day.

It took me currently having my kitchen, home desk and work desk that I’ve consistently practiced certain tasks.

For some others may claim its a mental space, but for me I found it significantly more productive in intended settings meant for that task. 

Then the work desk, where I dungeon myself into the monitors.

Recent addition being my home desk where I’ve punched thousands of words so far. 

The most familiar space is the kitchen, it has been my inanimate best friend to me.

Ultimately its a daily habit, especially if you want the habit to stick around, and I took a peek at how my recent days looked like. 

 Keys, I surround my house keys with a skull keychain from my art professor, a japanese 5yen piece for good luck and my family name.

Keys, I surround my house keys with a skull keychain from my art professor, a japanese 5yen piece for good luck and my family name.

Keys, I surround my house keys with a skull keychain from my art professor, a japanese 5yen piece for good luck and my family name.

 My commute in below freezing temperatures. Bright days but piercingly cold. 

My commute in below freezing temperatures. Bright days but piercingly cold. 

My commute in below freezing temperatures. Bright days but piercingly cold. 

 Of course the one selfie I took in the morning the lens is dirty. but I got two layers of everything on. 

Of course the one selfie I took in the morning the lens is dirty. but I got two layers of everything on. 

Of course the one selfie I took in the morning the lens is dirty. but I got two layers of everything on. 

 My cubby space at the office. I just realized how many papers I have out...including post its!

My cubby space at the office. I just realized how many papers I have out...including post its!

My cubby space at the office. I just realized how many papers I have out...including post its!

 The home desk space. I have spent many an hour sorting photos and punching words. 

The home desk space. I have spent many an hour sorting photos and punching words. 

The home desk space. I have spent many an hour sorting photos and punching words. 

 Kitchen workbench made custom to my height. My inanimate best friend. 

Kitchen workbench made custom to my height. My inanimate best friend. 

Kitchen workbench made custom to my height. My inanimate best friend. 

 My inanimate best friend helped me make rice in a pot and cabbage, carrot, corn saute in chili oil. 

My inanimate best friend helped me make rice in a pot and cabbage, carrot, corn saute in chili oil. 

My inanimate best friend helped me make rice in a pot and cabbage, carrot, corn saute in chili oil. to fight the wintery night.

The Self Indulgent Stomach

I figured it was about time I shared some recipes. So here's three of them!

I do frequently throw my kitchen contents together so the instructions aren't meant to be concise, I just know I tend to be a slave to my stomachs demands... and then consume with vigor! 

Color Punch Bok Choy Stir Fry

- 1 large happy bunch of bok choy

- 1 loose carrot sliced

- 1/2 yellow bell pepper sliced

- 6 cloves of garlic chopped

- 1 tablespoon of chili oil

bok choy stir fry ingredients
bok choy stir fry

Heat up pan with chili oil. 

Throw in the garlic to fry in the heat,

Add carrots first to play, then yellow bell and bok choy. 

Continue Saute until all veggies are heated through. 


Sultry Chicken Sausage Apple Cider Reduction

- 1 package of chicken sausage

- 1/2 cup of apple cider

- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

- 1 cup of mushrooms

- 1/2 cup of onions

- 1/2 cup of italian pepper

chicken sausage w apple cider
chicken sausage w spaghetti

Heat up pan (that comes with a lid) til hot and throw on chicken sausage to brown. 

Flip over to continue browning on other side. Watch out for the flying grease!

Pour in the apple cider and place lid on pan to let the apple cider steam the sausage. 

When the cider reduces to a molasses brown, (it may almost look like its burning)

Place the apple cider vinegar to loosen the cider, throw in the onions and peppers. 

Once the onions and peppers have started to sweat, throw in the mushrooms. 


Hotshot Udon Noodles with Broccoli Rabe and Red Bell

- 2 packs of ready-to-eat udon noodles

- 1 pack of tom-yum soup packet

- 1 handful of broccoli rabe chopped

- 1 red bell pepper chopped

- sesame oil. 

udon noodles
udon stir fry w spice and veggies

Heat the pan with a bit of sesame oil. 

Throw in the tom yum paste packet to heat

Add the broccoli rabe and red pepper to saute in the sauce. 

Then finalized with the udon noodles and a splash of water to help the flavor mix into the noodles. 

Punchy Punchy

Jet Lag, Motion Sickness, Stiff Muscles, Skin Numbness, what do they have in common?

I got them all treated with acupuncture, and it’s continually impressive how a variety of symptoms have been alleviated with the foray into this branch of Eastern Medicine.

My first ever experience was a right back muscle running parallel with my spine that had turned into stone last winter. I had tried rolling a tennis ball between the back muscle and the wall, crushing the muscle with as much pressure I could apply without falling into tears. I’ve considered a masseuse yet would read suggestions of acupuncture being effective for deeper muscles, my journey started with the Tri-State College of Acupuncture Student Clinic.

With student sessions offered at $30 with promised supervision of Professors and actively practicing Mentors, I had nothing to else to loose. Located in the 4th floor of a building in the Chelsea neighborhood, it’s a mixture of classrooms and patient area. I was let into a curtained off massage table where I could hear the other consultations with the other patients and eavesdropped on severe cases of migraines, muscle spasms, chronic back pain – I’ve decided I was in the right place.

I was introduced to two senior students and their supervising Mentor as I detailed my medical history and complaint of my right back noticeable by its swelling. Requested to lie down on my stomach I was fearful of the needling process. I focused really hard on trying to keep my breaths long and even as the tiny pricks entered my consciousness. The students searched by feel of their hands for the needle location so it didn’t catch you by surprise, and then swiftly entered the smaller than a millimeter sterile needle. Needling was completed faster than I expected as they inquired if I wanted a blanket. I get chilly easily so said yes, but wondered how would they cover me in a heavy blanket with needles in me? Out comes a marathon runners solar blanket thinner than foil and hover it over my body to retain my body heat. They instructed me that they will let me ‘bake’ to let the needling do their work and promised to check-in on me. I barely noticed when they returned to check-in for I was drowsy, warm and lost in dreamland unaware of my surroundings. They returned to wake me and lifted the blanket impressed at the amount of heat I exuded from the process. Needles were carefully removed and counted. How did I feel? Lighter, without awareness of any soreness in my back with decreased swelling. I was surprised and pleased with the results.

To continue, I signed up for their Student Orientation session and their Grand Rounds class. Student Orientation educated me on the philosophy of the physiology behind acupuncture where the entire human body is one connected unit and how it strives to attain balance between all parts to be healthy. I further attended to observe their Grand Rounds where a volunteer patient registers to be treated by a practicing Professor known for their aptitude in their profession -in front of the advanced students. I got to see with my own two eyes limited mobility and rotation of limbs opened up to a significantly wider range of motion. It was a very potent observation to acknowledge that such effective treatments were available. Granted any chronic and persistent cases need continuous follow-up, seeing apparent changes in muscle related changes was truly inspirational.

I went back to Tri-State College for other random muscle stiffness case and got it resolved. Though the scheduling difficulty with their limited Student sessions, and the commute eventually made me look into alternative locations. Then from a coworker’s recommendation, I was made aware of a location in Greenpoint called Worksong Chinese Medicine – Community Acupuncture. I tucked that into my brain and forgot about it for a while.

During the summer I attended a yoga in the park session. It was a hot sunny day encouraging the muscles to stretch out even further. In one specific pose called ‘pidgeon’ where you fold one leg – cross-legged style in front of you, and the other straight behind you, I stood up straight from having my left leg crossed in front of me. My left leg buckled and I nearly fell over. I was soon after able to regain control of my leg and stand back up, but the experience was unexpected and mildly distressing. The next day I wake up to realize my left shin and calf surfaces are numb! I seem to have cut off my nervous system to my left leg.

Immediately booked and appointment with Worksong, and showed up to their location two days later as my symptoms still persisted. I was greeted and consulted with Amber as she asked questions about my case. Took my pulse to get a better understanding of me. She directed me to the two rooms behind the front consult area and allowed me to choose my location/seat and take my shoes off. It was summer so I was wearing a skirt and a T-shirt as she needled me in the wrists, top shin of my left leg and ankles. I said yes to her inquiry for a blanket and got to ‘bake’ for a good long while as I lost track of time under the heat of the runners blanket.

She inquired about my experience and how I felt afterwards and highly recommended a second session to make sure my case is thoroughly attended to. I had fascinating an out of body experience where I was a third person being aware of my right leg being unusually heavy and my left leg non-existent in my consciousness as I scheduled a follow-up on the third day from the first session.

The morning after my first acupuncture session I had regained feeling back on my left shin! The remaining numbness was now a small patch on the outside edge of my calf. My second session with Amber we concentrated on my remaining numb patch. From the day I had my left leg go numb, and within a week with two sessions, I had completely regained all my surface senses after cutting communication off by pinching in pigeon pose.

Fast forwarding to my return to the States after Singapore. I find myself suffering from jet lag heavier that I remember from my travels. Not being able to re-configure my sleep cycle even after a week of desperately trying to wake up in the morning, nauseous in the afternoon, staying awake until midnight to exhaust myself, and still waking up like a light bulb at 2 or 3 in the morning. I also found myself severely sensitive to the motion on the train! I had never experienced motion sickness from a train ride, and where historically am sensitive to the passenger seat of a car – the one time I got a ride home on the passenger seat, it was noticeably nauseating than I would remember it to be.

Back at Worksong, this time I find myself under the care of Isobeau the founder. Going through all my symptoms and anything I could think of that was unusual or unexpected, my needling started with my ears. I wondered what I must look like with needles sticking out of my ears, as I got one in my right big toe. I felt the big toe needle going in, but Isobeau knew with assuring me that it’s a tough spot because it’s at the end of the meridian and has a big-job to do. The remaining needles were in my left ankle, right shin, and both wrists. I ‘bake’ under the runners blanket making sure I focused on my breathing that allowing myself to worry about walking home in the winter cold.

It was hard to assess anything immediately after my session, but she sent me home with mini bandages with mustard seeds taped to the inside ridges of my ears. Called ear seeds they’re placed at a pressure point to continue the conversation inside my body to adjust itself.

 ear seeds - tiny quarter of an inch bandages with mustard seeds.

ear seeds - tiny quarter of an inch bandages with mustard seeds.

I didn’t ride in a train or a car for a couple of days after my acupuncture session, but by the time I did sit in a car the third day after, I did not get nauseous. And it did get easier to get a full nights rest without struggling to get out of bed in the morning – besides my unwillingness to wake up.

If it wasn’t for the Community acupuncture ideal of making healing affordable and working on a honor system of sliding scale pay-what-you-wish from $20-50, I may have not been able to get these issues resolved. I feel that Western medicine may not have been as effective or as apparently noticeable in its results if I got prescribed pills of unknown chemistry by a physician. There are many things I give credit for Western medicine for allowing me to stay healthy through detailed diagnostics, and necessary prescriptions when required. Now that I had the opportunity to understand what wide range of symptoms Acupuncture can alleviate, and how it addresses how to channel your body to communicate as one unit – I am convinced of its benefits.

Balancing Eastern and Western medicine, I hope this year will be a healthy one, and wish good health to all. 

Ahoy Singapore and Beyond!

Happy Belated New Years Peeps and Peepettes!!

I hope you had an wonderful and safe holiday season with good memories and stories worth repeating!

*****

(this time I had so much to share I had to start with a written intonation.)

Dear Goddess of Café Bustelo,

Please grant me the strength to write this entire day today, so that I may document all my experiences and memories before they get washed away with the coffee grounds at the bottom of the mug.

*****

I had to admit I had trepidation and anxiety going into this trip.

One, it was a family trip – which usually entails more structured time and itineraries – which is opposite from my preference of vagrant wandering travel.

Two, it was Christmas through the New Year – a large percentage of the world travels during this time of year – it meant long lines, potential delays, cranky people, more crying babies than usual.

Three, it was to Singapore – another bustling metropolis of melting pot populations and mass public transit – which made me wonder how I would end up comparing and contrasting it to New York. (Going on vacation from one megacity to another isn’t quite my first choice…but hey, it’s South East Asia!)

Journey started with the alarm screaming at 3:00am Christmas Day – I had scheduled a car service at 3:45 to get my sorry drowsy bum to Laguardia Airport for the 6:00am flight into Detroit to meet up with my family for the trip. As I got into the Security Line to hear the airport personnel making public announcements informing the Line that the Security Gate does not open until 4:30am – I’ll have to keep that in mind for future travel.

 DTW - Detroit Metro Airport

DTW - Detroit Metro Airport

LGA -> DTW -> NRT -> SIN (Laguardia - New York (+1hrs) Detroit - Michigan (+12hrs) Narita - Tokyo (+7hrs) Changi - Singapore (=20hrs of flying, NOT including Airport Security/Take Off/Landing time)). If it wasn’t for the day in between NY and MI to spend Christmas Day in Michigan to transition into a human vegetable in vacation mode to be semi-intoxicated perpetually comatose, I am not certain how I managed to survive the squealing babies most likely suffering with cabin pressure migraines audible over my headphones. I discovered that the airline I was flying included Woodford Reserve Bourbon on their international flight free spirits list, to be consumed every time when the beverage cart made its rounds. My first introduction to Singapore was filling out their immigration card to be greeted in red bold letters “WARNING - DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW” – how lovely.

 Warning - Death for Drug Traffickers Under Singapore Law... Thanks for the introduction!

Warning - Death for Drug Traffickers Under Singapore Law... Thanks for the introduction!

Landing in Singapore was past Midnight. With so much fluorescent lighting in the Airport, the only discernable first difference was stepping into the wall of humidity and the bright rainbow colored taxis stowing away people, transporting them to their final destination. The Exchange rate was 1 USD-United States Dollar into 1.3 SGD-Singapore Dollar. The supposition of Singapore being equally as expensive as other first world cities held true. The half and hour ride from the Airport to the Hotel was $33SGD. I was expecting to see a lot of traffic on a Saturday night as we entered Singapore proper – well lit barren streets between towering skyscrapers, the occasional taxi passing us by. I did not see people on the sidewalks. Granted I really didn’t know beforehand if the hotel was located in a popular night scene district or not, but by a 2am arrival with no evening human activity – I wasn’t sure if there was even a bar scene to be discovered later.

 Changi Airport, Singapore Immigration

Changi Airport, Singapore Immigration

 Singapore Taxi, colorful.

Singapore Taxi, colorful.

 Early Dawn view of Singapore. 

Early Dawn view of Singapore. 

Sunday – initial review of the map of the City-State indicated to me that majority of Singapore proper was within a 6 to 10 mile radius. The entirety of Singapore itself is approximately only 30 miles across at its widest point. To get a sense of scale, if I put together Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, it would be larger than Singapore. Orchid Hotel was located a block away from the Tanjong Pagar Station on the green East West MRT(Mass Rail Transit) Line. Beyond that was Singapore’s Chinatown, in the northerly direction was the infamous Marina Bay area, and the northern most points of note being the Arab Quarter and Little India. Overcast with temperatures in the 70’s Fahrenheit 90% chance of rain, jetlagged with a confused body and not so cooperative stomach, I glued the city map to my sweaty hand. I had no sense of business hours or the general flow of lifestyle as I started to lead my family towards Chinatown.

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A few cars and people Sunday morning, the dense greenery of the bushes and the palm trees fill the traffic medians and little plots of plants decorating perimeters of buildings. The immediate contrast of short European influenced buildings and infinitely tall residential/ commercial buildings seem to visually coexist without any discord. Chinatown greets us with a Buddhist temple standing grandiose, surrounded by red paper lantern lined streets, restaurant stall filled public food courts and fancifully grinning golden fat Buddha’s hawking keychains and 6pcs for $10 magnets. Larger Avenue intersections woo us with entrances to shopping centers blasting with air conditioning.

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Further north we hit the financial district, interspersed with open air public food centers. Instead of having street vendors, Singapore has consolidated them into a single open air roof where you can find a collection of built in stalls selling beverages, cigarettes, curry, noodles, rice and every variation of halal and pork next to each other. Many have told me they have heard that Singapore is very clean for a city. I could only confirm it being true.

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No litter in the streets, especially I don’t see anyone eating or consuming a beverage on the street. They are all seated in a food court or a restaurant. I personally am a fan of eat-walking, none of that was observed by any of its citizens. Cigarette smoking is strictly confined into specific smoking areas, maintaining the discarded butts into the ash trays. I don’t see any pets – no dogs on leashes, no stray cats skulking about. I hear some birds in the bushes, yet nothing like the flocks of pigeons populating every street surface in New York. No dog poo, cat turd, bird crap to be seen. I do see visibly posted Fine placards in English of no idle motorcycle parking, threatening the yellow boot clamp. I don’t even see any jaywalkers on the streets. What seemingly I assume are locals all stand patiently at every intersection waiting for the little green walking man to appear on the crossing light.

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We hit the Marina Bay to see the tri-towered Marina Bay Sands iconic hotel, with the shorter than expected Singapore Merlion Fountain. Merlion is exhibited with the head of a Lion and the tail of a Fish gurgitating into the bay facing east. This is where for the first time I see an army of tourists where almost every individual has their own selfie stick. That extendable self-held arm to hold your smartphone to snap selfies of yourself and your loved one with your intended scenery.  Meandering through the colonial Raffles Place Hotel, the art deco Parkview Square, unexpected underground avenue crossings filled with mazes of escalators and restaurants to keep you out of the potential rain and heat, we arrive at the Arab Quarter.

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Quaint two storey buildings filled with ground floor shops. Many are contemporary fashion boutiques and interior decorations, but as we got closer to the golden domed Masjid Sultan Mosque in the center of the quarter, the Persian rugs, hijab fashion, Turkish lanterns made their appearance, yet after a few blocks started to repeat itself. I was prepared to not see any alcohol, and there were signs on the restaurants proclaiming no alcohol in respect for the history of the neighborhood, but I was hoping to see some cafés with hookah’s-water pipes for me to potentially return later and indulge – only to see the few meager displays of hookah’s for sale in the shops covered in dust indicating their popularity.

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Burnt out spending most of the day outside, we decide to take the underground back to the hotel. The one thing I noticed about the signage in Singapore is that the public announcements are mostly in English. And then all the multi lingual signage include English, Chinese, Malay and Hindi. Four major languages included in all public notices indicated the variety of people working and living in Singapore.

 MRT Vending Machine

MRT Vending Machine

The MRT vending machines indicate ticket prices varying by destination. I appreciated the adverts by SMRT – Singapore Mass Rail Transit advertising “Look Ahead to Watch Where You Tread” recognizing that it IS a problem with practically every individual holding a smartphone in their faces while walking through a bustling train station. I see further Fines posted indicating how they manage to keep their subways litter free. $500 Fines for Eating or Drinking inside the Subway, $1000 Fines for smoking and I am uncertain how this one comes about, the largest being a $5000 Fine for carrying flammable liquid or gas. I don’t think it’s referring to cigarette lighters but canisters of gasoline. Later I find out that gasoline is cheaper in the surrounding areas, and even better prices in Malaysia, so it may be referring to people smuggling gas for their cars or homes.

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We feed ourselves dinner in Chinatown in their public food court. A permanent glass awning covers the street filled with built-in food carts with fake wheels. Varying noodles, roast pork or chicken, even a bit of Malay curry and satay skewers available. Beverage of choice being Heineken beer. The texture seems frothier than I recall, flavor being not as hoppy (even for a not-that-hoppy beer). I read the fine print to realize – brewed in Singapore under supervision of Heineken Holland, explains the different characteristics. To digest, we meander through a 24hour supermarket to see a collection of neatly packaged everything. Halal Beef, Chinese Pork, Australian Diary, Korean and Japanese Snacks mixed with Hershey’s chocolate. I had to appreciate their digital price tags that allowed the store to change prices as needed instead of price tagging every individual item.

Monday – Day trip to Melaka, Malaysia.

My parents booked a Japanese guided day tour into the historic site of Melaka, one of the older original port cities into Malaysian peninsula. The bus pick up was at the fancy Western Imperial style Fullerton Hotel decked out in Christmas decorations.

 A Bearful Christmas Tree at Fullerton Hotel.

A Bearful Christmas Tree at Fullerton Hotel.

 Gotta love the color scheme of the tour bus. 

Gotta love the color scheme of the tour bus. 

Interior of the charter bus was patterned with a neon rainbow of grape leaf patterns. The guide informed us that no photography is allowed in any border immigration/customs, and that it is absolutely imperative to have an exit stamp departing Singapore to be allowed re-entry into Singapore. Interestingly, all Singaporean Vehicles must have at least ¾ of a full tank of gas before departing Singapore. Supposedly Malaysia has cheaper gas prices, and in order to protect local gas prices and providers, the government seems to require re-filling to the ¾ level before entering Malaysia. We were also educated that the immigration stamps entering and exiting Malaysia must have correct dates. There have been cases of people being denied entry back into Singapore when the Malaysian Customs official did not have the correct date on their stamps. Off loaded from the bus to up the escalator into the Singapore customs to get the departure stamp and the releasing of Singapore Immigration card, back onto the bus to cross the man-made land bridge to cross the body of water separating Singapore and Malaysia. Off loaded again into the Malaysia customs to cue up for the stamp of entry into Malaysia. The entire process is accompanied by the roar of buses and vehicles passing customs underneath the building, while the masses of people in transit cue impatiently in the ‘all passport’ lines. I was fascinated most by the Muslim women customs officials on the Malaysia side all wearing grey hijabs as a uniform color with their black militaristic suits. It did not occur to me until that point that hijabs could be part of an employment uniform in a place where clothing itself has more rules depending on the culture/beliefs one observes.

In transit on the highway where the green countryside filled with palm oil plantations are visible, we stop by a rest-area for a potty break. The rest area consisted of a food court with a rich and pungent aroma of kitchens selling their curries, fried fish and steam buns consumed by locals traveling on the road, I didn’t have enough time to partake in the cuisine.

 Food Court in the rest area off the highway.

Food Court in the rest area off the highway.

All inclusive with a gender separated prayer rooms, men indicated by the blue and flat topped caps, and the women sign in pink with their iconic hijab.

 directions to the gender separated prayer room.

directions to the gender separated prayer room.

The cleaning ladies wore white shirts with white hijabs, definitely another uniform. I was soon reminded that I was definitely in South East Asia with the squatting style ground porcelain and water hose to rinse after all your bowel movements.

 there is no such thing as toilet paper!

there is no such thing as toilet paper!

The historic section of Melaka was shown to us as a low two story faded, crumbling neighborhood Chinatown with some temples surrounded by old storefronts converted into gift stores selling flip flops and Barbie knockoff toys.

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The streets packed to unmoving congestion with locals and tourists driving through town. Introduced to the facade of the only Asian architecture mosque in the whole region when the area was originally occupied by the Chinese.

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Migrated our way through the crowds until we reached the Portuguese occupied square celebrated by a fake three mast sailing ship from around the 1700’s and a crumbling hilltop church. Still standing were the grand hand engraved stone statuaries and gravestones with emblems inscripted with versions of Olde English and Portugese. The last stop was the World Heritage site of a Malaysian palace from its kingdom days.

 Malaysian Palace

Malaysian Palace

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The raised ground floor and pointed roof tops all built in wood timber – this style of architecture can be seen throughout South East Asia and I feel even into what little I know of Polynesia and Hawaii. What struck me the most was the array of colors worn by the local tourists. Being in a tropical climate I observed the liberal use of intense colors and the unconcerned use of neon colors.

 colorful tourists

colorful tourists

 local tourists taking advantage of the complimentary massage chairs.

local tourists taking advantage of the complimentary massage chairs.

I felt the combination of the immigration through the borders took more time than the tour itself. We were forewarned that the time to go through immigration back into Singapore would be more congested and time consuming, and turned out to be an accurate description. I was not sure if they were all tourists or workers trying to get through the land border. I was grateful when loading onto the tour bus, for I realized the unending line of people waiting in the bus pick up area was the exhausting line of people waiting for the next public bus to show up to take them into Singapore. It seems like you can migrate through the border taking public transportation, but that potentially entails seeing the line in front of you fill up with several charter busses full of people until you can cue up to the front of the line and can board one yourself. Rough going, but possible. The effort that the people make to get from mainland Malaysia into Singapore really indicates to me what a financial powerhouse it must be for the entire region. Also how much effort Singapore must be taking to keep businesses operating within its borders.

singapore at night
 the evening Merlion gurgitating into the Marina Bay.

the evening Merlion gurgitating into the Marina Bay.

Tuesday – Day trip to Batam, Indonesia.

ferry terminal

Monday by Bus, now Tuesday by Boat. In the morning we take the MRT to the Harbour Front station where there is an international Ferry Terminal departing to different parts of Indonesia. Our destination was a small island only 10miles from Singapore over the Singapore Strait. The trip was a 1 hour refreshing speedboat ride where the waters were frequently spotted with massive container ships filled with their cargo either anchored or snail-ing their way to their destination.

 Batam Fast commuter boat between Batam Indonesia and Singapore

Batam Fast commuter boat between Batam Indonesia and Singapore

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Indonesian immigration was less congested, requiring a Tourist Visa fee of $15USD valid for 10days. We were picked up by the Japanese speaking Indonesian tour guide, and since we were the only guests for the day, had the 10 person minivan to ourselves. Batam is a small 15mile wide island primarily operating as a container ship port, and a resort destination away from Singapore. Our guide informed us that the resorts are cheaper, so many Singaporean locals travel to Batam for holiday relaxation and cheaper shopping options.

Our first stop was a hilltop by the water where one could see the Singapore skyline in a distance. We were educated that illegal immigration into Singapore by water used to be rampant, but now with sophisticated radio monitoring of the waters, it has become virtually impossible. Behind us staring at Singapore with a blank eyes is a statue of a Chinese Buddhist priestess with a small shrine accompanying her.

 priestess statue migrated to her current location staring at the sea.

priestess statue migrated to her current location staring at the sea.

She was originally in another location, but due to the majority population being Muslim, she was migrated to her current location above the cliffs surrounded by a mini-weekend getaway resort where it’s claimed the monkeys come out at night to check your room doors to see if they can enter to raid your refrigerator for food.

 close your doors, or monkeys will come raid your fridge at night. 

close your doors, or monkeys will come raid your fridge at night. 

The second destination being the highlight of the trip required a half an hour drive where one experiences the view of a countryside vastly contrasting from Singapore. One lane highways where an old man holding a hand radio and a stick with a red ribbon tied to its end directs traffic with the wave of a stick.

 human traffic light.

human traffic light.

Curbside concrete pouring done by teams of men in sandals squatting over their mallets pounding in pegs to hold the wooden boards to hold the shape of the curbside mold. Scaffolding constructed with thin timbers in not-so-square angles, abandoned construction projects with their unpainted concrete walls, roadside stalls selling neon yellow liquid gasoline in plastic bottles to fill the motorbikes that all the locals use for their primary transportation.

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Our highlight was a bridge spanning the gap between Batam and another Island, shaped like an upside-down V held up with cables spanning the entire bridge. It was a tourist destination made apparent by the photographers offering their services to photograph you with the scenery, printing glossy full sized pages off of their color printers strapped to their mobile bicycle printer stalls.

upside down V bridge
 motorcycle photo printer guys

motorcycle photo printer guys

Lunch was served in an enormous outdoor catering hall build over a river called the Golden Prawn, decorated in Chinese red and gold ribbons inclusive with your lone male singer on the Christmas light decorated stage singing age old love songs in an undecipherable accent when trying to sing certain phrases in English. Large grey black carp swam in the river next to us waiting for the staff to fling the leftovers to feed them. Lunch was an entertaining array of fried fish with a Chinese cornstarch sauce, fried whole shrimp with a drizzle of spiced condensed milk, fried calamari, corn egg drop soup, sautéed green in garlic sauce, steamed mini conch shells, crab cooked in a tomato paste sauce, all served with a neon green bucket full of steamed rice. We later discovered that after, this was a restaurant where if one really desired, could fish net a specimen of choice from the water tanks and have it prepared almost any way you wanted. What I really wondered was if the locals fished out the carp from the river eating all the restaurant leftovers for their dinner – most likely.

 lunch at golden prawn restaurant

lunch at golden prawn restaurant

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Next we were directed to an open air gift shop, filled with your keychains, coconut shell accessories and housewares, but what really caught my attention was the abandoned (?) non-operating mini amusement park across the street. All inclusive with a wire-framed ferris wheel hooked up to a generator style motor belt to rotate the ride, an airplane ride that went around in circles, and a miniature carousel. I couldn’t tell if it was shut down, or just not operating hours. The lack of children or any human being in the play area gave it a ghost town effect- especially with the faded paint colors and the rust exposed through the peeled off areas.

 rust carousel

rust carousel

 empty carnival

empty carnival

Last, yet probably the most pertinent for me to experience was the open market that was located in a bustling commercial area. Filled with open air vegetable stands, vendors that specialized in eggs of all colors and sizes, dried and cured fish stalls, chickens that got cut up by the butcher in front of you- blood and all, around the corner from the locals hanging out on the raised platforms accompanied with games and cigarettes.

 motorcycles are prevalent

motorcycles are prevalent

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The late afternoon boat took us back over the water into Singapore. I saw the skyscrapers rise from the horizon as we neared the Ferry Terminal. Tuesday dinner was the first opportunity to have dinner in one of the open air food courts. I indulged in a plate of mutton shank curry with some roti bread, while my parents shared some roast pork with rice. I saw a long line in front of a stewed tofu stall, so I guess that is the popular stall in that particular food court by the Harbour Front MRT Station.

 mutton shank and roti in food court

mutton shank and roti in food court

 stewed stofu stall

stewed stofu stall

The first few evenings suffering from the jetlag and exhaustion from the hot humidity Singapore had to offer, I finally had a bit of free time for myself. I debated what I wanted to do as I started meandering through the streets. So far in my short stay in Singapore, we observed that the sun rises later than I expected, around 7:30am and sets in the evening by 8pm. Most of the commuters show themselves in the late morning around 10am indicating a work day from late morning until into the evening when it has cooled down for the day and after the afternoon rains. It explains the advertisement that the MRT is posting publicly – if a commuter takes a ride before 7:45am, MRT will give you a free ride – I take this as an attempt to distribute the morning commute congestion into earlier in the morning. Restaurants and bars seem to have operational hours from late afternoon around 10pm or Midnight. Closing time seems to coincide with the public transportation closing completely by Midnight. I have yet to see any homeless in Singapore, the only displaced person I’ve observed being a Caucasian sleeping in the underground in front of the entrance to the MRT – most likely caught unawares that the trains close at night.

 Tanjong Pagar road view from hotel.

Tanjong Pagar road view from hotel.

It turns out the Tanjong Pagar station is the closest to the few dense streets of restaurants and particularly bars that serve more than beer. The liveliest bars I hear voices singing karaoke in a very intoxicated manner, with girls hanging outside squeezed into their night club outfits and platinum platform heels.  That really isn’t my style of entertainment. I turn back around to a location I spotted earlier with two patio tables surrounded by palm leaves and warm lantern-esque golden light emanating from the inside. It turns out to be a French Riviera style décor bar. I simply couldn’t figure out the reason for the establishment being absolutely patron-less, whether it was a Tuesday night or just an unpopular style of alcohol being served. The shelves were lined with aperitifs, fruit liqueurs, wines, scotch and brandy – this is more my style of entertainment. The young female bartender comes out from the rear to greet me, as I inquire about the contents of a label-less dark green thin-necked bottle that looked familiar to me. She wasn’t sure, so she took it off the shelf, uncorked it and took a sniff trying to figure it out. I inquired for a whiff myself – jackpot, it was Calvados. I ordered a glass and proceeded to inform the young bartender that this was a French apple brandy, the sweetness of the fruit with the spice of the brandy almost akin to plum wine, yet with a stronger punch in the face. When you get served at a bar or a sit-down restaurant, there is an automatic Service Charge or included tip of 10%. Good service or not, you won’t have to figure out how much tip to pay, it’s all figured out for you. I suspect I did something patrons rarely do, take my flip flops off and kick my bare feet up onto a chair on the patio. But hey, being the only patron in the entire bar, it seemed absolutely permissible. The particular block I was hanging out in retained the architecture of stucco European facades painted in white or pastel all lined with terra cotta roof tiles. It was a quaint side street as I got to see a trickle of bar patrons occasionally do a curious double take back at me.

 a clean well lighted french place

a clean well lighted french place

 calvados on the patio

calvados on the patio

Wednesday – New Year’s Eve.

We start the morning with Dim Sum that I’ve been eyeing in Chinatown. Ordering with indicating the quantity of orders on the yellow slip of menu paper, we cover the table in bamboo dim sum steam dishes. Variations of shrimp dumplings, short rib bones, rice noodles in a soy based sauce, chicken feet, steamed pork buns, egg custard and a bowl of congee. All washed down with several pots of tea.

 Chinatown Breakfast

Chinatown Breakfast

 dim sum breakfast

dim sum breakfast

Knowing that the evening will be spent by the Marina Bay area vying for a location to see the New Year’s Eve Fireworks, we took a short train trip to the southern end of Singapore to hop onto the Monorail connected to investigate Sentosa Island – their year round theme park island.

Inclusive with Universal Studios, Waterparks, Beaches, Resort Spa Hotels, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Golf Courses, and a cable car system that can offer an alternate scenic route onto the island if one is willing to wait out the long lines. Our objective was their Aquarium. Filled with clear long walkways that put you through inside the fish tank, small tanks that showcased small jelly fish, sea horses.

 overhead aquarium, you can see fish bellies.

overhead aquarium, you can see fish bellies.

 jellyfishes

jellyfishes

 the "imax" aquarium with manta rays.

the "imax" aquarium with manta rays.

There were scuba divers scrubbing the algae clean from the inside surfaces for better visibility. I was stunned with their largest aquarium the size of an Imax theatre spanning the height of probably at least 4 people if stacked vertically. It made me want a wall sized aquarium to take up an entire wall in my apartment. This large one housed an enormous manta ray paired with a small shark swimming underbelly never leaving its side. I couldn’t even fathom how they could have possibly transported such a large specimen, but there it was before my eyes flapping is gracious fins in a hypnotic motion. In addition to the Aquarium the building housed an exhibit on Singapore’s pirating and trade history. Expanding on the trade from all part of the world, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, China and even Africa. And due to strengthening of land routes and reasons of poverty Pirating was a serious problem for early Singapore, I feel it somewhat illustrates the current Government’s control freak-ness in order to protect itself and its primary asset as an internationally valuable port city.

After the Aquarium saw the hordes from Sentosa Island migrating back into Singapore probably to get ready for the evenings fireworks. Our preparation included taking an afternoon nap to save energy for staying awake later than usual. Once dark outside we took the MRT on station north to the Raffles Place station closest to the Marina Bay.

 Singapore river at night.

Singapore river at night.

 singapore skyscrapers.

singapore skyscrapers.

Walked along Singapore River that flowed inland from the Bay to quest for dinner options. Without being too picky for food options and prioritizing a place to sit, we end up at an Italian restaurant. With the usual suspects of bolognese, lasagna, rack of lamb, margarita pizza on the menu, I am content and comforted with vongole clam in white wine served over really wide pappardelle ribbon pasta. Wine for some reason is an alcoholic beverage that can hit me differently than the stronger spirits I tend to preferably imbibe. This time my father and I split a bottle of Pino Grigio which by the time we finished dinner and stood up from the table has made me tipsy rather quickly. With still enough time before the midnight fireworks, we find the loading dock on the Singapore River that offers tours on their bumboat – a low ceilinged vintage wooden motorboat with about 8 rows deep that could sit 4 people across that included a mini outdoor deck in the rear. I manage to squeeze myself into a tiny spot in the rear deck to see the brightly lit towering skyscrapers and evening revelers on the shore celebrating their momentous New Year’s Eve. I was impressed at how long the riverbanks continued with restaurants and bars filled with people, even floating boats on the river converted into restaurant. Eventually the bumboat had to turn back around to its starting point to drop off all its customers, we found ourselves on the Anderson footbridge behind the Fullerton Hotel where you could see into Marina Bay beyond the Esplanade Drive – the last bridge before the Bay. We got to stake our position on the Anderson footbridge right as people really started gluing themselves to their territory along the Bay side bridge. This is when I had to thank the Pino Grigio for making me fall asleep blissfully from only two glasses of white wine as I held my position seated on the ground of the bridge to wait out the last two hours before midnight. The pressuring crowds vying for their final position to view the fireworks got intense enough that it eventually woke me, yet relatively considerate of each other not pushing too hard even compared to the aggressive New York commuter train cars. I assumed there would be some kind of music or a loudspeaker countdown, it’s possible we weren’t in the right location to hear it. As midnight hit with the view of the Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel lit brightly in every color of the rainbow that illumination could offer, we were in perfect view of the fireworks right above our heads!!

 celebrating 2015

celebrating 2015

We originally purchased a round trip train ticket back to the Hotel, but soon realized all the side entrances to the trains were closed off and the security funneled the crowd neatly into the train station at the main entrance. Even in this jam packed crowd situation Singaporeans exercised effective control – it may have to do with the masses not being foolish slobbering drunks. Looking at the line to the train, by the time it was our turn to cue up it would most likely take the same amount of time to walk back to the Hotel, so we weaved through the traffic and the throngs to return to the Hotel as one whole unit.

 hustling Singapore.

hustling Singapore.

Thursday – Last Day.

Now that we have learned that Singapore doesn’t really start operating until late morning/ midday, we took the liberty to sleep in late. One of the few notable places we haven’t been to yet was Little India and Orchard Road. We took the train to the purple North East Line to Little India Station. The first think I noticed as we were exiting the station that the ticketing booth area was littered in receipts on the floor. It was the first time exiting the MRT that it felt like stepping into another environment entirely. Locals hanging out around the entrance of the train station, groups hanging out standing in small circles or sitting on the small patches of grass available on the lawn (so far I haven’t seen anybody sit on the grass elsewhere in Singapore)

 Little India Flower Stall.

Little India Flower Stall.

We browsed through the congested streets selling bangles, flowers, electronics advertised on paper print outs glued to the window. Temples thronging with New Year well-wishers noticeable not just by the crowds but the pile of shoes left out front of the Temples. There were vegetable stands, woven flower vendors, stalls selling Indian sweets recognizable with the square cut shapes and silver leaf décor. Little India behaved like a different country unto itself.

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Circled through the neighborhood and hopped on the train one station to Dhoby Ghaut Station on the Purple line. This put us at the eastern end of Orchard Road – famous for its luxury brand flagship stores and continuous rows of shopping malls. Got hit by the torrential afternoon rain so dashed into one of the shopping malls for a coffee break. I observed that many Singapore coffee shops use machines to produce espresso beverages with a press of a button. I really didn’t see baristas grinding the coffee grounds and pulling a shot through an espresso machine. It would explain my how many of my coffee’s tasted like instant coffee mix. Maybe that’s just how they like their coffee in Singapore. My mother expressed interest in getting on one of the double decker open air sightseeing busses.

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We located the nearest Hop-On, Hop-Off ticketing station and started our ride on the top floor of the bus reveling in the refreshing breeze after the rain. Instead of getting off the bus after one loop, had lunch in the food court underneath the Singapore Flyer Ferris Wheel. Each had a variation of a noodle bowl, soupy thin noodle, soupy fat noodle, brow thick saucy noodle, spicy red soup noodle.

 food court spicy lunch noodles.

food court spicy lunch noodles.

Afterwards we transferred to another loop that encompassed all the main neighborhoods. Marina Bay, Chinatown, Arab Quarter, Little India, Orchard Road, it head far west beyond Orchard Road out to the main entrance to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and the farthest point east passing the Marina Bay Sands hotel on the water towering over your head while weaving through the new skyscrapers being built by the Bay. It was surprising how quickly we circled and weaved through the entire city proper, that we stayed on for a second time around! Singapore may be considered a megacity, but I would consider it more a vertical city than a sprawling one. I got the impression that every new building is narrower yet taller to minimize the size of the footprint covering the ground.

It was a long week with a 6am flight out of Singapore Friday morning that required us to depart the Hotel by 4am. I actually have to confess I had the best coffee of the entire week at the Singapore Changi Airport at a café called Killarney’s. They brewed their coffee in the old school cloth sock hung over the pot in the drip coffee method served with a touch of condensed milk at the bottom of the mug. For once not seeing the coffee made from a push of a button was what enthusiastically drove me to stand in front of the counter and order thick slices of buttered toast and coffee for my last meal in Singapore.

 the last coffee, was the best coffee I had in Singapore

the last coffee, was the best coffee I had in Singapore

I originally had trepidation and anxiety about Singapore, but I am extremely grateful I had an opportunity to go. I got to see an example of a successful thriving capitalistic city, exercising rigorous control over its variety of immigrants to allow uniformity and functionality of a growing City State. I am grateful to see such an example with my own two eyes. I am compelled even further to take opportunities that I may have, or will make for myself in 2015 to be creative, push myself to do new things that will expand stepping into my uncomfortable zone for personal growth, and possibly be tempted to break some rules just to create opportunities to think outside the box. In short I feel as if I lost some screws that I used to firmly hold in place in my brain so that I may attempt to go beyond boundaries that I have placed for myself.

 Singapore - tropic, old and skyscrapers.

Singapore - tropic, old and skyscrapers.

I am grateful for 2014 for the people I’ve met, and gained new friends. I am grateful for the places I’ve been, and gained new insight on how the world manifests itself through people. I am grateful I had the courage to take the leap into documenting my experiences to indicate to myself how much I have live through to know there are even more in between all the stories I have posted. To realize there will only be more adventures to be had this year, I am ecstatic and enthused to find out what they are and live through them.   

P.S. I am super-grateful for my parents taking me on this trip. And also my father traveling so much, we got moved up to the fully reclining Business Class seats on the 12 hour flight from Japan to Detroit.

 of course its airline food porn...and bourbon.

of course its airline food porn...and bourbon.

                    

Veni Vidi Vici Seattle! (part 3)

(The gogobaroness Holiday Re-Run Series! The 3 part installment of my June trip to Seattle!)

Tuesday- overcast & famous drizzle - with sunny afternoon in between.

Breakfast #4 from Macrina Bakery - espresso chocolate hazelnut biscotti - I gifted them to Pati and Glen at Bell Harbor - it was fun to hang out with them first thing in the morning. I could totally get into this morning coffee chat thing.

39 - Good Morning Seattle!

Lost track of time and booked it over to Brainbridge Island Ferry further down the waterfront to meet up with Sophie on Bainbridge Island. We chatted up a storm catching up over coffee and she showed me the beach on the north side of the ferry. We also checked out Bainbridge Island Museum that opened up last year. The Book Binding and Cover exhibit was spellbinding.

40 - Sophie in Bainbridge
41 - Spellbinding Books

We got lunch at Cafe Nola on Winslow Way and indulged and shared Bourbon with grapefruit juice, and Bourbon with strawberry and oranges. Food heaven was Scallops on cornbread for Sophie and Dungeness Crab Cheese Toast for me!

42 - Lunch at Cafe Nola

Sophie had to go back to take care of the dogs, in memory of Bainbridge Island I traveled with a sprig of flowers on the ferry ride back to Seattle.

43 - Ferry to Seattle

For the entire time from Sunday I was thinking on the totes at Center for Wooden Boats made from sail and canvas fabric recycled from boats - I finally caved in and purchased the happy blue tote. Considering I spent so much time already on their docks - it felt right to support them and I ended up with my new jazzy tote!

Also I realized this was the last time I would be hanging out on my awesome dock - so I left the flowers to hang out on the dock for me.

44 - my placeholder at Center of Wooden Boats

My last meal I ended up at Twisted Pasty on 4th Avenue and Vine. Restaurant based off of Cornish Pasties I've been eyeing it as I walked through Belltown.

I ordered the Salmon with mushroom and asparagus for dinner and a Guinness stewed corned beef with potatoes and cabbage Pasty for the flight back to New York. The Cocktail of the evening was something they developed for a Book Club event at the restaurant and was such a hit they kept it on the menu - Earl Grey tea infused Scotch with honey, lemon and ginger beer. I enjoyed the aroma of the Earl Grey - my second round was only the Earl Grey tea infused 12 year Scotch with ice! My waitress MIchiko was amused (and told me) what such bubbly enthusiasm in I have in ordering Scotch on the rocks.

45 - Twisted Pasty dinner ensemble

Did I mention I was the only person sitting outside again? Yes it was overcast - but it was not raining and refreshing - Seattleites sitting inside didn't know what they were missing out on.

46 - very comfortable chair

But I did have company - a family decided to order the mixed berry pasty for dessert - but since it was a 21 and over establishment only their two highschool/ college looking son and daughter was not allowed in, I invited them to sit with me while their parents ordered dessert. They were a family from Kentucky visiting Seattle where their father used to serve on a military base, they've traveled to New York and now Seattle and amazed at how big these cities were, and dreamed of maybe being able to live in them. They were so well mannered with their hands on their knees - I yammered on about New York being like boot camp for living life. If you can survive New York you can take those survival skills and take them anywhere else.

Wednesday - overcast

I wake up early to pick up Breakfast #5 from Macrina Bakery - this time cranberry biscotti for Pati and Glen - I had the savory salmon Pasty leftovers for breakfast as I hung out one last time with them on the Bell Harbor office. We swapped emails and facebooks, they wished me safe travels and to see me again in Seattle sometime.

I finally experienced the Seattle Light Rail en-route to Seattle Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport. Thankfully the flight is on time.

47 - Light Rail Locals
48 - airport water station!

To mirror my arrival in Seattle the Cabbie back to the apartment was a Sikh - inside Jimmy Fallon and the loud Yellow Cab channel was giving me a headache - so it turned it all off to notice he had some interesting music on,

"I like the music you have on the radio, can you turn it up for me?"

"Its not music"

"Oh, its prayer?"

"Yes, Prayer"

"Its very beautiful Prayer"

of Voice, harmonium, tabla and flute ensemble. It was a meditative way to reflect on my trip and emotions as I got jostled in the New York Cab ride back to the daily grind.

I had an absolutely fabulous time.

49 - nature + industry = Seattle

Veni Vidi Vici Seattle! (part 2)

(The gogobaroness Holiday Re-Run Series! The 3 part installment of my June trip to Seattle!)

Sunday - overcast & famous drizzle  

Breakfast #2 from Macrina Bakery - quiche with arugula, walnuts and grapes - it didn't last beyond a few steps from the door - it was too tasty.

19 - Macrina Bakery Breakfast #2

by 9am I make it to the Center for Wooden Boats I come across an original steam boat being prepared for the day - with real wood fire for the steam engine!

20 - Steam Boat at Center for Wooden Boats

The family in line front of me for the FREE event was there returning from last weeks attempt to sign up for a sail boat - it seems like it's the most popular choice - since I was second in line - I managed to get signed up for a charming sailboat called the Aime - it was scheduled to set sail at 1pm - I went back to the dock on the water to hang out - saw a local bearded guy pumping out water from the boats - I eventually asked him where's a good place to get food - his recommendation was Pho Cyclo that opened up another location on Aloha and Dexter which was a few blocks away - and turned out to be Pho noodles super fresh and hot. Their house special of slices of beef, meat balls, tripe and melting chunks of fat in the light broth... an escape from the chilly morning was definitely a winner.

21 - Pho Cyclo

My return from Pho Cyclo - I run into bearded guy again - when at the register the cashier saw me still chewing on basil and offered me another basil sprig - I graciously accepted - so I passed on the gift to bearded guy as thanks for the lunch spot.

the Sail on the Amie was relaxing and educational as the captain chattered on gaily about the history of Seattle and the charms of the sailboat itself.

I was proud of the shot I got with the space needle on the right of the mast and the downtown skyline left of the boom.

22 - Sail Boats - Amie on right
23 - Space Needle and Downtown view from Amie

After the gorgeous sail I run into bearded guy for the third time - he asked if I wanted to grab a beer with him if I had nothing else going on - I figured a beer wouldn't hurt me. He was courteous to ask if I wanted to take the public bus or a ride in his car - " if anything I will jump out of the car and run if I have to".

This bearded guy has a name - Reed Lane working for Boeing working on contract aircraft as a radio engineer, and his wife was out of town taking care of the husband of an elderly couple who hired her to travel with them to Alaska - he was hanging out trading 3 hours of volunteering for an hour of sailing at Center for Wooden boats. Traveled to Odin brewery tasting room in Fremont - I got to pick his brains about how to scramble/encrypt a radio signal when radio is a wave frequency.

24  - Odin Brewery beers

I got a tour of Gasworks that was right next to the brewery - the insides were painted bright colors and the locals were attempting to parkour its iron gears.

25 - Gasworks Interior

Behind Gasworks - there was a mighty battle ensuing with full bodied armor renaissance dudes. Then proceeded to the houseboat dock that he and his wife used to rent from. Bright colored houseboats in charming scale floating - moored in a semi permanent manner.

26 - Medieval Battle
27 - Happy Houseboats

Reed was hungry so I got introduced to Ballards best food joint - Paseo Carribean Food. The streets were empty - but this joint was packed full of people. They were famous for their sandwiches - "lightly toasted baguette slathered w/ aioli, fresh cilantro, pickled jalapenos, crisp romaine and carmelized onions" I got the marinated pork shoulder and Reed got the boneless chicken sandwich.

28 - Paseo in Ballard
29 - Pork Sandwich from Paseo

Migrated up to Golden Gardens Park north of the expansive Shilshole Bay Marina to eat the sandwiches with a view.

29.5 - View from Golden Gardens Park.

The way back into Downtown/Belltown veered into Queen Anne for me to digest with a coffee (it turns out not everybody in Seattle is a coffee drinker). The houses were colorful and the gardens well tended in the neighborhood.

30 - Queen Anne Neighborhood

He dropped me off in front of the Hostel and I thanked him for the awesome tour of the Seattle. ( I was originally thinking I'd check out Ballard by bus - totally manifested in a different way)

Monday- overcast & famous drizzle - with sunny afternoon in between.

Breakfast #3 from Macrina Bakery - Bacon egg onion brioche sandwich with coffee.

31 - Macrina Bakery Breakfast #3

Back down to the Elliott Bay waterfront - I finally get around to writing my postcards - I was sitting on the only public ping pong table on Pier 62/63 and as the drizzle came down - I had the umbrella over my head while crouched under it indian fashion trying to keep dry as I scribble my posts.

As 10am got closer I migrated over to Pier 66 where the Alki Kayak Tour was scheduled to start - I wasn't sure so I knocked on the office and asked the kind lady inside if this was the right place for the Kayak tour. Later as I was waiting for the the tour guide to meet me - she poked her head out again and offered to make me a cup of coffee afterwards because it looked so cold out, and will most likely be cold after the trip.

"I would love to hang out with you later!"

and I was definitely cold - in flip flops in preparation to be in the kayak, yet even with two sweaters, I was finally warmer when the guide Matt geared me up with a over-sized rain jacket and the Kayak skirt to secure me from falling out.

I was the only person who booked for Monday so it was just Matt and I. Decided to take the two person tandem kayak - he advertised the tandems can go faster and farther and I was excited to see what distances these locally made sea worthy kayaks could travel. We went northward up along the coast by the Olympic Sculpture Park, through inlets along the industrial granary where large Hong Kong vessels were loading up their cargo, all the way to the southern end of the Shilshole Bay Marina.

32 - Matt from Aliki Kayak

Matt was originally from Rochester NY, and a Environmental Science degree holder who has traveled summers to Alaska, winters to Belize occasionally been to New Zealand for many tour guide gigs. Now he was getting ready to start Graduate School at Washington University in Environmental Policy - he was very knowledgeable about the biology and history of the Puget Sound area.

The sun came out on our way back to Bell Harbor on Pier 66 - Matt estimated we traveled 6 miles! My shoulders were sore from pulling so much water!

33 - Kayaking in Elliot Bay

I stopped by the office to accept the offer of coffee from the nice lady I met in the morning - she had prepared for me a steaming cup from a Keurig machine, and as Pati and I started chatting a Marina customer walked in to inquire about the correct WiFi code if it was "one, one" or "L, L" - it was "L, L" for BeLL Harbor. As we were yammering away a fellow worker shows up and Glen told me later he was surprised to find out we just met.

34 - Pati and Glen in Bell Harbor Office

Another Marina guest comes in - I was sitting in the tallest swivel chair with a cup of coffee in my hands - the guest walks straight up to me and inquires about the WiFi code - I confidently respond its "L, L" - Pati and Glen burst out laughing with their bellies once the guest leaves the office.

35 - Pati the Harbor Master

I hung out with them for a while and got recommendations for food for I was famished after the 3 hour kayak trip. I was trying to get to the Chowder Place in Pike Public Market but it got so congested, I ended up at the Chinese Bun place where Glen frequents and got a BBQ Pork Steam bun and a Curry Beef Bread with crunchy crust on top. I eat it on the same pier 62/63 from the morning, and passed out for an hour nap in the sunny warm cozy sun.

36 - Public Market curry bun on Pier 62/63

I was overall really tired and exhausted from the day, but refused to waste it, I wanted to have a relaxed evening - I stopped by at the hostel to discard some excess layers and promenaded to Westlake Ave. to their Whole Foods - ended up with Seared Albacore Sashimi and Raw Cow milk cheese to pair with the famous Beecher's Crackers. Picnicked on this feast once again on the dock of choice on South Lake Union. It really surprised me I was the only one really taking advantage of the fabulous view on the water at the end of the dock. Nobody was fighting me for the space - maybe because it felt like it was more of Center for Wooden Boats property...

37 - Whole Foods picnic on South Lake Union

Reed was volunteering that afternoon as he noted on Sunday , after he was done with his shift - we grabbed a beer on the north side of route 99 bridge at the Nickerson Street Saloon - and I proceeded to educate the bartender - that the pint glass he was filling up with the extra beer head pours from all the taps - is called a New Jersey Turnpike - the authentic rendition is from the drainage grills that catch the excess pours and then dumped into a pint glass - which the bartender was somewhat disgusted by the thought - but very entertained to think he has a way to get back at unsavory customers.

38 - Route 99 at sunset

Tuesday, Wednesday left to go!